A bit of international news with local interest: Former Atlanta Symphony Orchestra artistic administrator Frank Dans, who joined the ASO in 1994 and left in May 2006 to take the same job at the more prestigious Cleveland Orchestra, one of the so-called “big five” American orchestras, is leaving the United States to become general manager of Kuala Lumpur’s Malaysian Philharmonic.
For Frank Dans, formerly of the ASO, it’s goodbye Cleveland, hello Kuala Lumpur!
Dans, 58, worked his last day with Cleveland on September 2, and he’s already left to rendezvous with his new orchestra, currently on tour in Japan. His departure has not been announced. (Top photo: Back in the day, Dans is seated with red tie, ASO conductor Robert Spano is standing.)
Starting September 17, Cleveland’s interim artistic administrator will be Elaine Martone, best known around here as the Grammy Award-winning producer of many Atlanta Symphony recordings for Telarc International, which is (or was) based in Cleveland. She’ll hold the Cleveland Orchestra post until the end of 2009. In the meantime, the orchestra will conduct a national search for Dans’ permanent replacement.
Martone, 52, says she might be interested in the job permanently.
“I think Gary [Hanson, Cleveland Orchestra executive director] hired me for my artist relationship skills,” Martone says. “Frank had an encyclopedic knowledge of the repertoire, which I don’t. I’ve loved producing records. My learning curve will be steep.” (Lower photo: Martone with Scott Peacock, chef of Decatur’s Watershed restaurant; photo by Eric Owens.)
Martone’s time is much more free since Telarc’s new corporate owner, California-based Concord Music Group, cut staff and planned to outsource music production. Earlier this year, Martone and her husband, Robert Woods (Telarc’s co-founder and former president) created Sonarc Music to continue producing recordings. Among Sonarc’s planned projects is an Atlanta Symphony recording of Wynton Marsalis’ new “Blues Symphony.” The world premiere is scheduled for November.
She has twice produced records for Cleveland, its music director Franz Welser-Möst, and the Deutsche Grammohon label — a Bruckner 7th Symphony and an in-progress Wagner opera recording. “I get along with Franz,” she offers, “but being artistic administrator is a whole new relationship.”
A behind-the-scenes job, artistic administrators can wield enormous influence over the sound and shape of the organization’s music-making, from big-picture, multi-season programming to scouting new talent to negotiating performance fees for guest artists to signing the contracts on behalf of the orchestra. “My main hope is that I don’t have to put in 80-hour weeks, at least not for long,” says Martone. “I’m excited, and I’m terrified.”
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